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Inheritance (1)

No. The right to renounce one’s inheritance is universally recognized throughout the world. In most cases heirs renounce their inheritance in order to avoid unwanted expenses, responsibilities, or debts that are associated with the estate. A review of literature on the issue of renunciation found that the right to renounce a right to inherit property is an important safeguard against unwanted debt in France1, Germany2, Lithuania3, Italy4, the Czech Republic5, Spain6, all of Latin America7, Burkina Faso and India8, Israel and Turkey9, Tunisia10, Jordan11, and many other countries.

The majority of countries that have addressed renunciation have done so by employing procedural safeguards. Many of these are countries where Islamic law is recognized as the formal law of the land, but customary law, which is often more restrictive for women than Islamic law, is also practiced.

The courts that administer the division of inheritance in Palestine have introduced procedures to protect women’s inheritance rights and address social pressures on women to renounce their rights. Under that law, acts to renounce rights must be registered and witnessed. The inheritance process also mandates periods for reflection to safeguard, women from urgent family and social pressure. Where the inheritance of land is concerned, the law requires that women must first register their rights before they may renounce them.

Similarly, in Jordan, amendments to the Personal Status Code in 2010 led to an instruction to offer protection to women’s inheritance rights. The instruction provides a three-month period for reflection after the division of inheritance rights during which heirs cannot renounce rights, except in special circumstances. If a woman would like to renounce her inheritance rights after that time, the court must first explain to her the consequences of the renunciation and, in the case of immovable property such as land, the property must first be registered in the name of the heirs before it can be renounced and transferred.12

In Italy, a public notice of renunciation is required. When a successor renounces her inheritance, she must give public notice of her refusal before a Notary Public or a public officer, since the act of renouncing an inheritance cannot be made in a private document.13

In many Arabic countries, land inherited by women can be exchanged or renounced for cash.14

Notes:

Rollot, Catherine, 2011. “Death & Debt: More French Heirs Renounce Succession of Departed, Indebted Parents.”
Siegwart, Holgar, 2013. “How to Disclaim an Inheritance in Germany.”
Government of Lithuania, 2001. The Law of Succession.
Italian Inheritance.
Government of Czech Republic, Civil Code, Articles 463-468.
Walton, Clifford Stevens, 2003. The Civil Law in Spain and Spanish America.
Diana Deere, Carmen and Magdalena Leon, 2001. Empowering Women: Land and Property Rights in Latin America.
FAO. Women’s Rights to Land and Other Natural Resources.
Layis, Aharon. Women and Islamic Law in a Non-Muslim State.
10 Ben Salem, Lilia. Tunisia, in Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Progress Amid Resistance, ed. Sanja Kelly and Julia Breslin (New York, NY: Freedom House; Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010).
11 World Bank, 2013.  Jordan Country Gender Assessment. Economic Participation, Agency And Access To Justice In Jordan; Poverty Reduction And Economic Management Department, Middle East And North Africa.
12 Id.
13 Italian Inheritance.
14 Sait, M Siraj and Tempra, Ombretta, 2015.  Land Fragmentation in Muslim Communities: Traditional Challenges And Innovative Consolidation Approaches, University Of East London, United Kingdom.

 

Joint Tenure (1)

No. Very few countries have universal joint tenure, which means that all property brought into marriage or acquired in marriage in any manner is jointly held. A presumption of joint tenure for married couples means that there is a presumption that a married couple holds property acquired during marriage jointly. Often there are exceptions for property that is inherited or property that is gifted to one of the married couple. Thus, in most cases, even when married couples have joint tenure, ancestral land is excluded.

Some countries allow separate property to become joint property if the non-owner contributes to the value of the property (pays for improvements, for example).

Legal Concepts (3)

With tenancy in common, each person holds (owns) a portion of the whole piece of land, although that portion is not demarcated. If a husband and wife hold land as tenants in common and one of them dies without leaving a will, his/her share will be part of his/her estate and will be distributed to his/her heirs. When land is held in common, the owners have a right to do what they want with their portion of the land. For example, a portion of the land can be sold to someone outside of the tenancy in common.

In contrast, joint tenure means that more than one person holds (owns) the whole of the property. Land held in joint tenure can only be acted on with the consent of all the owners, as each owner is acting for all owners on the whole property. For example, for land to be disposed of, all the joint owners must agree to do so. While still alive, a joint owner may transfer his/her interest to all the other owners, but to no other person. In some property systems, if a joint owner dies, his/her interest in the land will vest in the surviving owner(s). This is called the right of survivorship. In other places, if one person dies, the land automatically becomes tenancy in common, and the land is divided among all the owners with the deceased owner’s land going to his/her heirs.

Note: Joint tenure can also be called joint ownership. Tenancy in common can also be called common tenure or common ownership.

Category: Legal Concepts

No. The right to renounce one’s inheritance is universally recognized throughout the world. In most cases heirs renounce their inheritance in order to avoid unwanted expenses, responsibilities, or debts that are associated with the estate. A review of literature on the issue of renunciation found that the right to renounce a right to inherit property is an important safeguard against unwanted debt in France1, Germany2, Lithuania3, Italy4, the Czech Republic5, Spain6, all of Latin America7, Burkina Faso and India8, Israel and Turkey9, Tunisia10, Jordan11, and many other countries.

The majority of countries that have addressed renunciation have done so by employing procedural safeguards. Many of these are countries where Islamic law is recognized as the formal law of the land, but customary law, which is often more restrictive for women than Islamic law, is also practiced.

The courts that administer the division of inheritance in Palestine have introduced procedures to protect women’s inheritance rights and address social pressures on women to renounce their rights. Under that law, acts to renounce rights must be registered and witnessed. The inheritance process also mandates periods for reflection to safeguard, women from urgent family and social pressure. Where the inheritance of land is concerned, the law requires that women must first register their rights before they may renounce them.

Similarly, in Jordan, amendments to the Personal Status Code in 2010 led to an instruction to offer protection to women’s inheritance rights. The instruction provides a three-month period for reflection after the division of inheritance rights during which heirs cannot renounce rights, except in special circumstances. If a woman would like to renounce her inheritance rights after that time, the court must first explain to her the consequences of the renunciation and, in the case of immovable property such as land, the property must first be registered in the name of the heirs before it can be renounced and transferred.12

In Italy, a public notice of renunciation is required. When a successor renounces her inheritance, she must give public notice of her refusal before a Notary Public or a public officer, since the act of renouncing an inheritance cannot be made in a private document.13

In many Arabic countries, land inherited by women can be exchanged or renounced for cash.14

Notes:

Rollot, Catherine, 2011. “Death & Debt: More French Heirs Renounce Succession of Departed, Indebted Parents.”
Siegwart, Holgar, 2013. “How to Disclaim an Inheritance in Germany.”
Government of Lithuania, 2001. The Law of Succession.
Italian Inheritance.
Government of Czech Republic, Civil Code, Articles 463-468.
Walton, Clifford Stevens, 2003. The Civil Law in Spain and Spanish America.
Diana Deere, Carmen and Magdalena Leon, 2001. Empowering Women: Land and Property Rights in Latin America.
FAO. Women’s Rights to Land and Other Natural Resources.
Layis, Aharon. Women and Islamic Law in a Non-Muslim State.
10 Ben Salem, Lilia. Tunisia, in Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Progress Amid Resistance, ed. Sanja Kelly and Julia Breslin (New York, NY: Freedom House; Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010).
11 World Bank, 2013.  Jordan Country Gender Assessment. Economic Participation, Agency And Access To Justice In Jordan; Poverty Reduction And Economic Management Department, Middle East And North Africa.
12 Id.
13 Italian Inheritance.
14 Sait, M Siraj and Tempra, Ombretta, 2015.  Land Fragmentation in Muslim Communities: Traditional Challenges And Innovative Consolidation Approaches, University Of East London, United Kingdom.

 

No. Very few countries have universal joint tenure, which means that all property brought into marriage or acquired in marriage in any manner is jointly held. A presumption of joint tenure for married couples means that there is a presumption that a married couple holds property acquired during marriage jointly. Often there are exceptions for property that is inherited or property that is gifted to one of the married couple. Thus, in most cases, even when married couples have joint tenure, ancestral land is excluded.

Some countries allow separate property to become joint property if the non-owner contributes to the value of the property (pays for improvements, for example).

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